That’s the Apple Safari 4 (beta) browser which has just recently suddenly been released for public testing. There are a lot of different browsers out there and, of course, a lot depends upon your specific requirements as to which one you choose to be your ‘main’ one.
Each one seems to have its little quirks, or shortcomings, but each one adds something new each time. Internet Explorer continues to lose ground in the so-called ‘browser wars’ but, if you are a web developer or website owner, you still need it. Internet Explorer is still used by 70% of the world and Microsoft, as they always have, do things their own way. This means that if you design a website which works and looks good in any other browser on the planet, chances are it will look strange on IE. So you need a copy, if only for testing purposes.
So what about the Safari 4 (beta) from Apple? How does it shape up to the likes of Google Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer? I downloaded a copy and gave it a whirl.
First off, for a beta, or testing version, it was very stable, no crashes. Good start. It boasts 150 features, some innovative such as ‘Cover Flow’, where you can flip through your history or bookmarks like you can with albums in iTunes. Useful if you can’t remember which site you want to return to but remember a picture or something on that particular site.
I won’t go through all the features, you can see them all on the Apple site, just a couple of important ones if you are looking to use the browser for more than just surfing.
It is tabbed browsing, standard these days, with the taps right at the top, much like Google Chrome. Gives you more real estate to work with, but does take a bit of getting used to. OK so far. Doesn’t have the independent tabs of Google Chrome, where if one site hangs you can just stop that tab without having to shutdown and reload the whole browser.
It has a set of ‘Developer Tools’, not quite of the calibre of the invaluable ‘Firebug’ for Firefox…yet, but the potential is there. It has ‘Smart Search’ and ‘Smart Address Field’, unfortunately two different boxes rather than ‘one for all’ but I suppose again, its a question of getting used to it. Could live with that.
The browser automatically imported ‘favourites’, but unfortunately added extra symbols to each address which rendered them useless. Had to go through and manually alter them. Tedious.
So, its quite minimalistic, but with a lot of good features. It’s super fast. It has RSS support. Are we onto a winner here, looking at changing main browser? Just as I was thinking everything was going smoothly, I decided to check my email.
Wouldn’t connect. It seems that Safari 4, like its predecessors, has a problem with certain email servers, most notably Yahoo and its Business Mail. That means you would have to open a second browser just to check your mail. The advice from Yahoo to solve this problem appears to be ‘use Firefox’. How helpful! It was looking so good up to that point. Ah well.
However, ff you are looking for a superfast browser just for surfing the web, and don’t have Yahoo Mail, then Safari 4 could well be the answer and well worth a try. If the mail problem can be sorted, one could quite easily be tempted to change, at least to give it a longer and more thorough testing. Until then, I’m sticking with my current browser, which does actually do everything I want without problem.